Tuesday, June 29, 2010

rogue states

rogue states
1300 connecticut avenue NW (at N N St), washington, DC 20036
tel: 202) 296-2242
hours: monday-sunday 11am-5am (yes, that's 5 in the morning ...)
what was consumed: ciao down (garlic, tomatoes, basil) burger (pink), fries, soda
recommended for: lunch and/or a casual dinner
i was sitting at my desk at the office one day and friend dave handed me a 5x7-ish flyer for a "new" burger place (thanks, dave!). he had been out during lunch and received one of the flyers as 'rogue states' began their grass roots marketing for their upcoming opening. i began anticipating their opening ... only to have that date slip my mind (i guess i'm not that much of a fan of new places to eat. hahaha - i laugh as i type that). no matter - i soon got a chance to visit rogue states (and have been a few times since then).
so, this is how it works at rogue states. you walk in, select the sort of burger that you want (and decide pink (yes please!) or no pink), appropriate toppings, fries (yes please!) and soda options. then you sit (while sipping on your selected beverage - yes, they have beer & wine here) while waiting for the wait staff to bring your food. once your food arrives, enjoy! repeat as necessary (though i've never had a desire to repeat immediately after completing a meal). simple, eh? here's where it gets complicated. the variation of burgers is not necessarily related to the additions that you add to your burger; rather, the variation has to do with what you add to the burger's patty. i.e., if you order a 'ciao down,' then they mix garlic, tomatoes, basil with the ground beef and together, those ingredients make your burger's patty. YUM. a bit different from other burgers, especially in that others try to maintain the purity (?) of the patty. rogue states offers variation (they also have a more 'purist' patty option as well), which i most definitely appreciate. the patty, then, coupled with their deliciously toasted bread and fresh toppings (lettuce and tomatoes, please) creates a delicious burger!
and be sure to try the different dipping sauce options for the fries! i can't remember what the options were off the top of my head, but there's one that i really liked. i think it's the old bay mayo (or was it the chipotle one?). shoot - i don't remember. i'll just have to go back to refresh my memory (yay!).
among the other things i like at rogue states, one thing i really appreciate has nothing to do with food. rather, it has to do with options. i love it when eateries (a la rogue states) offer a few variations of the same and you choose from that menu. wonderful! now, i love options. i love having options and will sometimes even go out of my way to make sure there are a variety of options available to me (though this is turning into a sort of harrowing existance because i often cannot/will not choose from my options). but when it comes to food, more often than not, restaurants have too many options. shoot - i've already gone through the arduous decision making task of selecting a restaurant (what cuisine? what mood? indoors or outdoors? drinks or no drinks? quick or sit down? options options options!), it is tormenting to then decide what it is that i'm going to eat. granted, part of the distress is because there usually are no less than a dozen thing on those menus that i want to eat (but i digress, per usual). understandably, there is a time and place for eateries that offer everything under the sun (especially if you want to eat one thing and the people you are with want to eat something else or are unwilling to try new and different things (boo!)).
when i teach facing connecticut avenue, i can see 'rogue states' from my classroom. this will remind me of the yummy burgers i've had (which often causes me to digress from the lesson. sigh. you can see what my priorities are - ha!). i'm sure i will find myself at rogue states again ... soon please!

Friday, June 4, 2010

kogi truck

kogi truck
multiple locations
tel: 714) 697-4683
what was consumed: short rib taco, spicy pork taco, short rib burrito
the craze of food trucks is not just on the east. out in so.cal, it's the kogi truck that has been calling out to interested parties for some time now. while in so.cal, i made it a point to look 'em up (i was even willing to drive up to LA! luckily, they also have a truck in the irvine area) and finally got the chance to try the infamous kogi taco from the taco truck ... in one word: YUM (yeah, yeah, i say most things are delicious). for real, the tacos are de-licious!
so, they were in my neighborhood (or rather, towards my neighborhood) today, so i made it a point to head out there to check out the truck. i get in line around 1:10pm (their schedule today was to be in irvine between noon-2pm) and be overwhelmed with the line that wrapped around the truck area in the parking lot of the car wash the truck had parked in (apparently, the truck and the business have some sort of deal? i guess that's a great way to do business?). i seemed to be waiting and waiting and waiting, all the while taunted by the korean bbq being cooked in the truck. after what feels like hours and buckets of sweat (it's dry, but hot in so.cal today), i finally make it up to the front of the line. once there, and my order is in, i wait again for my food. while i'm glad that my food is made fresh to order (more or less), the wait is a killer.
here's the other thing. i put in my order and the guy asks for my name. i say "grace" and what does he put down? crace. really? REALLY? in asian infiltrated irvine? maybe it's because he was overwhelmed with the massive number of graces that visit the truck on a frequent basis (no, we do not all look the same)? or maybe he's just hard of hearing? or maybe he was just tired. in the end, it doesn't matter, but i thought it was funny. i proceeded to take a photo and post it here. i digress ...
the kogi truck has a number of different options, besides their more famous kogi tacos. a variety of tacos, burritos, sliders, quesadillas, even hot dogs! and dessert! all seem to have some sort of korean flair (e.g. kimchee) and most definitely mixed in with texmex. they even have tofu as an options! yes, they're thinking of the non-meat eater (though i'm not sure how it is that they cook the tofu tacos and burritos. they seemed not as popular as the other options). i ultimately opted for the beef short rib taco, the spicy pork taco, and the beef short rib burrito.
at around 1:35 (while i was waiting patiently in line), someone came out with a little sign and gave it to the guy standing just a few people behind me (see photo) to indicate that no one behind him would be served kogi. and let me tell you, there were people who came even closer to 2pm and were (pretty much) out of luck ... too bad! the guy at the end was really nice about it when people came to ask about the line (and the sign). he must be a regular. i can see how some people may take it over the top, a sort of indication of power (and luck?) in that he/she is the last one. people in line were also saying that the last person is also often rewarded with free leftovers in appreciation for holding the sign. i didn't pay attention to what happened to the guy behind me, but he looked more happy to have made the cut than anything else (man, if i came later, as i had thought to, i would've been so disappointed! and maybe even a little bit angry ... even though it's my fault).
so, when i finally got my food, it was well over an hour since i had gotten in line. people started to get really irritated because of the wait, because of the heat, and because despite the huge line behind there were people who were all, "umm, i'm taking this home. will you package this for me?" hello! self service, people! anyway. about the food. tacos = delicious. i would probably wait in line again if it means i could have these tacos again (granted, i say this now that i've cooled down and my stomach is full. had you asked me while i was in line, my answer might've been different). the meat was well cooked and spiced, both the beef and pork (though i think the spicy pork could've been more spicy. to the kogi truck's defense, they did have a bottle of siracha sauce available for consumption). the lettuce in the taco was also seasoned, with a light almost soy sauce-y flavor which complimented the meat beneath. all of this was on top of 2 corn tortillas that weren't too dry and just right. a note to the hungry: the tacos are small, probably 2 1/2ish inches in diameter (though also about 2 inches piled up). nevertheless, i thought they were pretty hefty for their small size. but at $2 a taco, i think it's worth dishing out a few extra bucks for 3 or even 4 tacos (honestly, i would've been ok with just 2 tacos. i know! me!)
the burrito was good too, though i would opt for the tacos. i had the beef short rib burrito and felt that the seasoning on the beef was too ... sweet. the burrito was wrapped in a flour tortilla and then toasted on the outside (which i think is great!). the burrito was also filled with some of the seasoned lettuce as well as some rice (i think?) and eggs. normally, i'm a fan of eggs, but for whatever reason, i wasn't expecting them in this burrito, so it sort of too me by surprise. i think next time, i'll try to spicy pork one. or be sure to ask them to hold the eggs (haha). or maybe just load up on tacos and think nothing of the burritos. who knows! of course, this is just a personal preference, as there were loads of people walking away with burritos. definitely worth $5!
be sure to check out their where-abouts online and get there early! you don't want to be the one right behind the guy with the sign ^_^ kogi truck, come to us on the east! thanks in advance~

Thursday, June 3, 2010

in 'n out

in 'n out
multiple locations
what was consumed: usually, set menu #2 - cheeseburger, fries, soda.
i love five guys, don't get me wrong. there's something about being able to pile your burger high up with loads and loads of extras, making your burger as high as it is wide. but i'm a so.cal girl at heart ... and my heart belongs to in 'n out.
i've been the the first ever in 'n out (that is, i've been to the one that they say is the first - in westminster). the simplicity of the burger, the freshness of the burger ... what more do i need to say?
from what i understand, there are no freezers at in 'n out. nothing is frozen; rather, everything is delivered fresh, cooked fresh, eaten fresh. DELICIOUS.
the burgers at in 'n out are fresh and delicious. in the words of christine, they have a clean flavor - agreed! you can get your burger made just the way you want - lettuce tomatoes, sliced onions, grilled onions, special sauce, ketcup, mustard. you can get it animal style (extra of all the toppings) or even the protein version (bun-less). i usually get my burgers with extra lettuce and extra tomatoes only.
and then, there are the fries. when i first tried them, i didn't think that they were anything out of the ordinary. that is, until i realized that they were so similar to my mom's - fresh cut, fried just right, delicious. i hear you can also get the fries special - covered in the special sauce or with cheese or with grilled onions or ... but i have yet to try it like that. yet.
i also remember the first time someone mentioned to me that the owners of in 'n out held steadfast to their christian beliefs. there's a note of "john 3:16" on the inside rim of all of their beverage cups. for whatever reason, in my youth, i thought that was a grand idea (though now i see it on the 'forever 21' bags as well as spray painted on many a freeway wall (what does that mean!??!)). now, even though i'm less comforted by those few letters/numbers (that's a whole other conversation), there's a part of me that is still intrigued, and almost amazed, by such an existance.
i miss in 'n out so much when i'm not in california. and when in california, i go out of my way to ensure that i have it ... at least once.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


shik do rak
14775 jeffrey road, irvine, ca 92618
tel: 949) 653-76868
9691 garden grove boulevard, garden grove, ca 92844
tel: 714) 534-7668
what was consumed: korean bbq! usually one of the set menus that includes the works. instead of all the meat options, i usually ask for only cha-dohl (the thin sliced beef) ... yum.
despite all of the korean food i consume at home, i find myself frequenting korean restaurants. while there are some super terrible ones, there are some good ones, even great ones. and there is something about shikdorak that just calls my name. so, when in so.cal, i make it a point to visit. i used to visit the garden grove location, but now frequent the new(er) irvine location.
the food at shikdorak is wonderful. the cha-dohl is fresh, thinly sliced, and cooks quickly on the grill. your meal also comes with lots of bahn chan that they keep filling up as you eat bowls and bowls and bowls of it.
once the gogi is finished cooking, i usually dip it in the spicy sauce and place it on a bed of green lettuce and radish kimchee. i then take one of the rice wraps and stuff the entire thing into my mouth. delicious. other korean bbqs have delicious options, but it's the rice wraps (dduk) at shikdorak that differentiates this place from all others. i'm sitting here thinking about shikdorak and instead of writing about it, all i can do is look at the photos and think about eating it. sigh.
while shikdorak isn't the most romantic of all places, it is good for groups and massive consumption of food. and even though you leave smelling like korean bbq, it's totally worth it! this past trip to california, i visited shikdorak twice (almost three times! sorry we didn't make it, jess!). both times, we had to wait. a lot. that never happens! but you know what? i didn't mind it one bit. oh, shikdorak, i can't wait to visit you again~~~